Sunday service at St. Cloud Church of God. Pastor Lewis Cushman.
July 1937 I attended my first Church of God camp meeting.
On a power pole was a poster advertising the camp meeting. My Father said we need to go to that.
Near the camp meeting there was a big strawberry field. As boys we went to the field and stole some, we got caught. The other boy was the state overseers son. Through the years we always known each other as the one who got me in trouble. Even so, if God can use me, He can use you too. It's not about who we are or were, it is about who HE is.
FROM A JUNIPER TREE TO A CAVE:
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer–sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:1-13 KJV
Elijah was a man just like us. But he also prayed and the heavens were shut for three years and there was no rain. Just like in the days of Elijah, God still moves.
There is a withdrawing from the local church as a place where the spirit moves.
We are Pentecostals, we STILL believe in the moving of the spirit, shouting to God, running, dancing, speaking in tongues, healing, and powerful blessings for a living God.
Q: What happens when church members want a worship service that is more comfortable for unbelievers?
A: They don't want to Holy Ghost to move too much, keep things quiet, no clapping or embarrassing moves.
It's when the spirit moves that sinners are convicted, and saved.
The Sprit moves on hearts of people and they leave different then they came.
The Church of God is Pentecostal.
But we also believe in decently and order.
Q: Why are New Testament ministries operating outside of the Word of God?
As a church of God:
We believe in divine healing.
We believe in miracles.
We believe in salvation through Christ.
If we are not careful we verbalized the temperature of the church. When you talk about service to people how do you describe it? Be hot or cold, who wants to go to a lukewarm church.
Don't think the only way to keep people in the church is through entertainment. It's not about lights and smoke machines. We need the anointing and preaching of the Word.
We are here because we were convicted of our sins.
God will speak to your heart through the preaching of the Word.
There are people who do not follow the message according to the Word. They are hearers only.
Inward Change vs entertained.
There is an intensifying appetite to be entertained in church.
Nothing should take the place of the moving of the Spirit and the preaching of the word.
Jesus hung on the cross for humanity and he shed his blood, that's why we are here.
There is a withdrawing from the local church as the center of life.
Church used to be the highlight of the week. A time to learn and be refreshed, not entertained.
The community around a church is supposed to be effected by the church, not the other way around.
The world has been creeping into the church and changing the way we worship.
The church must be united together. A local church is bound by the unity of the Spirit.
Bound together by cords of love.
We are all part of the service, we are all part of the body, we are all important.
You are just as important to the service as the pastor.
We can walk around and hug you and tell you how much we love you. But if the Word is not preached then we failed.
There is a withdrawing from the local church because of issues.
The Control Squad: They think because they hold a position that they can tell the Pastor how to run things.
They think that because they are big financial donors they have sway in what is being done.
No pastor should ever disobey the leading of the Spirit because he is worried about offending the money.
Some people leave a church because they can't be in control.
You are NOT on a pastors counsel to control the church.
A senior pastor should be able to lead the church as he is lead by the spirit of God.
The Church butterflies: They hatch, and fly from one form of religious entertainment to another. Fluttering about, but they are fragile and as soon as they are hurt they move on to the next church. Sit, listen, and apply the word to your life. Don't back off from the preached word of God. Even if it steps on your toes.
You were saved because someone preached the word of God. You heard it and then you responded.
It's not about a big meeting, or a big name evangelist, It's about the anointing.
The Neo-Christians: Any interpretation of Christianity based on the prevalent philosophy of a given period.
They have no concept of what is going on in the church today.
They are somewhere between the juniper tree and the cave.
Not in a church and they don't want too much to do with church.
Entertained, without depth. Young in the Lord without solid teaching.
The cave dwellers: Christians that stay inside the four walls and don't get involved.
Some of us have gone to a cave to hide. We sit, we attend, we say amen, and when it's done we go home.
Elijah went to the cave... but God found him there.
There was wind, thunder, fire, and a earthquake, but God was not in them.
But then a still small voice, and God was there.
That voice said "What doest thou here, Elijah?"
God knows how to get through to us, will you listen?
Q: What is God saying to you today?
There is a spiritual need for more of God.
Is there a small still voice calling you to prayer?
If He is speaking to you, take some time to pray.
Pray that God would give you a renewed relationship with him.
I need thee
oh I need thee every hour
I need thee
oh bless me now
I come to thee.
Side note from Matthew:
Let me ask 8 questions:
1- Where are you today in your Christian walk?
2- Are you in the same place you were years ago?
3- Are you growing?
4- Are you challenged by the preaching you hear?
5- Do you feel like you are strong in the Lord?
6- Do you feel tired and weak?
7- Do you feel like your lost and not moving towards God?
8- Do you turn off the preaching because it convicts you?
It might be time to find a church that will challenge your status quo. It might be time to find a place to get prayed over. It might be time to turn from following a worldly lifestyle and seek first the kingdom of God. Follow Jesus, he will never lead you wrong.
Graphic Art and Blog content by Matthew Law, inspired by Pastors and visiting speakers messages.